Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry will soon announce the person he’s chosen as a running mate, and during a weekend stop in Iowa Kerry called Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie “mainstays” in his presidential campaign. Governor Vilsack went to church with Kerry in Dubuque — although they didn’t sit together — and when the Kerry entourage stopped at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville to play baseball, the two men played on the same team. However, it was difficult for photographers to capture the two men in the same picture frame all day long as Vilsack shied away from standing next to Kerry. Radio Iowa news director O.Kay Henderson spoke to Vilsack Sunday afternoon, and he was still reluctant to share much about the process of being considered by Kerry as a potential runningmate. “This is a very important decision that he has to make and only he can make it,” Vilsack said. “He has to be comfortable with whatever choice he makes, and I’m sure he’s going to make the right choice.” On Saturday, Kerry spoke with Radio Iowa by phone, and Henderson asked Kerry if he was more interested in selecting a running mate who was compatible, or a runningmate who would do the most to deliver votes at the ballot box. “I’ve said I’m going to keep this very private and very personal and I’m not going to get into categories and standards and whatever,” Kerry said. “When I make my announcement I will share my thinking with the American people.” And that announcement could come as early as tomorrow. Bush campaign manager Kevin Mehlman says no matter who Kerry chooses, they won’t be as qualified for the job as Vice President Dick Cheney. Kerry’s weekend bus tour through Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota was meant to make inroads into rural America where Bush did so well in 2000. Al Gore’s advocacy of restrictions on gun ownership is thought to have lost him votes in rural areas. This time around, Kerry is making an appeal to gun owners. On Saturday, Kerry visited a trap shooting range in Wisconsin, and hit 17 of 25 targets using a borrowed gun. During his telephone conversation with Radio Iowa, Kerry talked about gun rights. “I am a gun owner. I am a hunter and I respect the Second Amendment,” Kerry said. “But I also know from my law enforcement experience and from my practical experience that I’ve never contemplated shooting a deer with an AK-47. I think that having an assault weapons ban is important in America. I think that reasonable rights and expectations about not having a felon get out jail and go buy a gun is smart, so law enforcement supports those things and I support law enforcement.” The Bush camp is quick to point out that Kerry gets an “F” from the N-R-A. Kerry spoke at a backyard barbeque in Independence, Iowa on Independence Day, and touched on a variety of other rural themes, like ensuring federal farm benefits are paid to active farmers rather than wealthy landowners who do not till the soil.
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